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UK Bank Holidays 2021

UK Bank Holidays 2021 – 7 Things Employers Must Know

With the Easter bank holiday just around the corner, we are all looking forward to some time off in the sunshine after a long and difficult winter. As an employer, it is important to be aware of all UK Bank Holidays 2021. You also need to be up to date on all employment laws relating to UK bank holidays. This will help you understand whether or not your employees are entitled to time off on bank holidays and if they should be paid.

In this article, we will outline all upcoming UK bank holidays to help you prepare. We will look at employee statutory rights, the rights of part-time workers, and bank holiday pay. We will also discuss what effect current furlough schemes will have on bank holiday pay, and how software can help you manage your employees holidays and absences effectively.

✅ Download Factorial’s Free 2021 Holiday and Absences Template

Upcoming Bank Holidays England and Wales 2021

In the United Kingdom and Ireland a bank holiday is a public and/or religious holiday. Banks and many other businesses close on specific days to celebrate or mark an occasion, although these days restaurants, pubs and shops tend to remain open.

Bank holidays were first introduced by the Bank Holidays Act of 1871. They were named bank holidays because banks would traditionally close on these days. As other companies were dependent on the banks to conduct their business, they would close too, rendering the day an official national holiday.

There are eight permanent UK bank holidays. UK bank holidays 2021 include the following:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • May Day
  • Spring Bank Holiday
  • Late Summer Bank Holiday
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day.

If a bank holiday is on a weekend, a ‘substitute’ weekday becomes a bank holiday, normally the following Monday.

In Scotland there is an extra bank holiday on November 30th for St Andrew’s Day. Scotland will also celebrate its summer bank holiday on Aug 3rd this year instead of late August. Additionally, Easter Monday is not a bank holiday in Scotland.

In Northern Ireland there are 2 extra bank holidays on March 17th for St Patrick’s Day, and July 12th for The Battle of the Boyne.

Employee Statutory Rights

According to UK employment law, almost all workers are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday a year (known as statutory leave entitlement or annual leave). This includes agency workers, workers with irregular hours, and workers on zero-hours contracts.

However, employees have no bank holiday statutory rights. Whether or not you offer your employees time off for bank holidays will depend on your employee terms of employment. This is covered by section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

You might choose to include all UK bank holidays 2021 as part of your employees’ annual leave, or you may decide to offer it as unpaid time off. If your employees work on a bank holiday, you must specify in their contracts whether they will have a right to extra pay, such as time and a half or double time,

Failure to comply with the terms of an employee’s contract will result in a fundamental breach of contract. If an employee resigns as an effect of this then they could file a claim for constructive unfair dismissal if they have been employed for one year or more (two years where the employment began on or after 6 April 2012).

Bank Holiday Pay

As we stated above, employees have no statutory right to extra bank holiday pay. Bank holidays are usually included in an employee’s annual holiday leave. Any additional payments will depend on the terms of their employment contract. Time off in lieu of working on bank holidays must be offered if entitlement is limited to the statutory minimum. This is so that their total paid leave amounts to 28 days per year (if they work a five-day week). Employees can only be paid in lieu of statutory minimum holiday entitlement in the event of employment termination.

Those employees working in essential services such as utilities, fire, ambulance, police, and healthcare workers usually receive extra pay for working on these days.

Bank Holidays for Part-Time Workers

Part-time workers have the same rights as full-time employees when it comes to bank holiday entitlements. This is in line with the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000, under which part-time workers are entitled to the same terms as comparable full-time workers, but on a pro-rata basis.

To protect yourself from any potential claims of unfair treatment, the UK government advises offering your part-time employees a prorated allowance of paid bank holidays, irrespective of whether or not they normally work on the days on which a bank holiday falls.

Working on Bank Holidays

If you require your employees to work on one of the UK bank holidays 2021 (in line with the terms of their employment) then employees cannot refuse to work. You should, however, be aware of the following:

  • Refusal to grant Christian employees time off for any of the bank holidays with religious significance could amount to indirect religious discrimination.
  • There is no requirement for employers to allow additional time off in lieu for employees who practise religions other than Christianity as this could be interpreted as unlawful direct discrimination. Instead, employees should use their annual holiday allowance.
  • Make sure you are aware of your obligations under the Equality Act 2010, which protects workers against direct and indirect discrimination.

Are Bank Holidays Paid During Furlough?

If you have furloughed employees, you might be wondering how this will affect their rights to pay and/or time off during the upcoming UK bank holidays 2021. If you have stipulated bank holiday entitlements in your employee contracts of employment then you will have two options. You can either pay your employees in full, or substitute any upcoming bank holidays with a day’s annual leave. However, if the furloughed employee is not entitled to bank holidays off in their employment contract, a bank holiday will have no effect on their pay during furlough.

Increase in Statutory Minimum Leave

In line with the Working Time Regulations 1998, statutory minimum leave rights changed in 2009, rising from 4 to 5.6 weeks. This entitles full-time employees to 28 days’ holiday plus eight UK bank holidays. Make sure your employment contracts reflect this change. You should be extra vigilant if your holiday year runs from April to March. This is because depending on when Easter falls, it could result in your employees receiving as much as 10, or as little as 6, bank holidays in a given calendar year.

Employee Holiday Entitlement

You also need to be mindful of any extra bank holidays, such as the proposed bank holiday in 2022 to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. If you have not specified the number of UK bank holidays offered in your employee holiday entitlement clause then your employees will automatically have the right to paid time off for this extra bank holiday. However, if you have specified the number of bank holidays an employee is entitled to (i.e. “plus 8 bank holidays”) then your employees will not be entitled to an additional day’s leave. You might, however, choose to offer this as a gesture of goodwill.

Factorial HR: Holiday and Absence Software

Once you are clear on all rights and obligations relating to the upcoming UK bank holidays 2021, you need to establish how you will manage them as an employer. A good solution for this is using holiday and absence software to keep track of your employees’ time off.

With Factorials’ holiday and absence software solution you can:

  • Centralise and automate all time off requests.
  • Accept or deny time off requests in one click.
  • Check the number of holidays remaining for each employee easily.
  • Create charts for total days used and total days available.
  • Gain visibility of all absences at a glance.
  • Define the number of holidays employees can carry over from one year to the next.
  • Create and customise as many leave types as you need.
  • Download annual and monthly summaries of your employees’ absences.
  • Allow your employees to request and manage holidays from their mobile.

Optimise your HR processes with Factorial🚀 Try it now for free.

Written by Cat Symonds; Edited by Carmina Davis

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